Bieber set for 2nd straight Opening Day start

March 12th, 2021

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It’s a question that has to be asked every Spring Training, even though this year, the answer was obvious for the Indians. Who will be the Tribe’s Opening Day starter in 2021? Indians manager Terry Francona confirmed on Friday that it will be .

“That’s probably not any big secret,” Francona said, with a smile.

Last year at this time, Bieber learned that he had made the jump from being the Indians’ No. 5 starter at the start of the 2019 season to being named the Opening Day starter in 2020. Though he had to wait a few extra months to finally make that first start of the season, he set an Opening Day record for the Tribe with 14 strikeouts in six innings against the Royals.

Corey Kluber took the ball in the first game of the season for five consecutive seasons prior to Bieber, 25, becoming the youngest Opening Day starter for the Tribe since CC Sabathia in 2004 at age 23.

Now, after winning his first Cy Young Award in 2020, Bieber will be back on the rubber for the Tribe on April 1 at 1:10 p.m. ET against the Tigers at Comerica Park. But because the Indians have five off days in April, the club knows that it doesn’t want to have more than five starters in its rotation. While Bieber is a lock, the rest of the rotation isn’t as simple to figure out.

Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale will undoubtedly follow Bieber in the rotation. From there, it’s likely that Triston McKenzie will once again be one of the starting five, but the other vacancy is still up for grabs. By the end of camp, it could come down to a tight race between Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill.

“I think we have an idea what we'd like to do for those first 10 days, two weeks,” Francona said. “We'd like to figure out who we're doing it with, as opposed to what we're going to do. I think carrying too many starting pitchers almost does a disservice to guys if they're pitching once a week. And we don't want that to happen.”